Archive | August 2013


For [personal profile] thesilentpoet‘s prompt.

The family was known for being a bit strange, and, at the same time a little bit too aggressively normal.

They had smooth, sleek black hair and pale skin, widow’s-peaked and licked back. Except the little boy that didn’t.

The boys all played football, and soccer. They joined Jr. varsity teams early and played sports right into college. Except the little boy that didn’t.

They were indifferent students, boys and girls alike. Decent enough in classes to get by, but they all hung on by their teeth to a B-minus average. Except the little boy that didn’t.

They were clannish, talking only to each other. There were nine of them, siblings, and then another twenty cousins and second-cousins and kissing-cousins and what-have you. They didn’t date, as far as anyone could tell, they didn’t bring home friends, and then didn’t talk about their family.

Except the little boy that did.

What they said was cryptic, what was overheard was nonsense. They talked in code most of the time. None of the family made sense. Except the one little boy that did.

And they were magic, all of them, the dark-eyed dark-haired beautiful ones. They were magic to their core, magic to the tips of their fingers. They didn’t just do magic, they were magic. Except the one.

They said – when he could hear and when he couldn’t – that the magic had just run out by the time he was born. The magic, the dark hair, the athletic urge. All of that had drained out of the family, so that there was nothing left for the youngest brother except brains, chocolate-brown hair and blue eyes like the sky. Nothing left for the little brother except a smooth tongue and a casual attitude with the rest of the world.

And the family was hated by the world, hated and reviled. They were distrusted, shunned, whispered about, hissed at. Hated. Except the one, the littlest brother, that wasn’t.

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To [personal profile] lilfluff‘s prompt.

“Well.” The two men shared a look. It was rather like looking into a mirror. It was rather like talking into a mirror, as well; they both spoke at the same time.

“What did you do?

A rueful smile passed from one man to the other, and then they, once again, spoke at the same time.

“I just figured out…”

One man was dressed in old jeans and three layers of cheap shirt; he made a little gesture, the descendant of a bow, towards the other. “No, please, you go first.”

The other took a half-step backwards. “Oh, no, that’s…”

“I insist.”

“Um. Okay.” The second one, dressed in an expensive bespoke suit, nodded. “I figured out a way to get Dame Helen and Mrs. Toblerone to start talking to each other.”

“That’s like pulling teeth while sky-diving.”

“On the surface, yes, but it’s a simple matter once you… what did you do?

“Oh.” The jeans-wearing version of the same face shrugged eloquently. “I discovered if I offered to trade something, people were more willing to talk to me than if I was just begging. So I traded an origami fish for a gift card to Macy’s, and it just went from there.”

“You’re good at this.” The suit-wearing version straightened his cuffs, a gesture he hadn’t had two weeks ago.

“I’m good at this? You’re the one that got the Terror Sisters at a table.”

“You got a car. And you didn’t have to steal anything to do it.”

The jeans-wearing man – the one who had once been Prince – shook his head. “I just understand people.”

The one who had once been a pauper twitched one shoulder upward. That, at least, he’d kept from his poorer days. “That’s all I’m doing. A car, really?”

“I’m working on trading it for a flat. I’ll let you know.”

One Red Paperclip is the story that inspired the Prince’s idea here.

And of course The trope namer.

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Not the Man

To [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt

“Governor Aryalt, we have a problem.”

The governor spared the Secret Service agent a glance. “What sort of problem? Media again?”

“No, sir. No. The problem lies a little deeper than that.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Governor Aryalt wasted the time giving the agent an actual look. The agent, in return, met his gaze levelly.

“Sir, you’re not who you think you are.”

“Ha. Very funny. Jim!” The governor raised his voice up to a shout. “Jim, you let another nut job through. What did I tell you about screening the security?”

“He can’t hear you, Governor.” The agent puts his hands on Aryalt’s shoulders. “Right now, nobody can hear you at all.”

Aryalt stepped back, but the agent’s grip was stronger than it should have been. “I’ll have you fired for this.”

“No you won’t, sir Because you are not Thomas Aryalt. You are not the governor of South Dakota. You are not a multi-millionaire mogul.”

The words should have meant nothing at all, but they hit Aryalt somewhere down in the gut. “You’re talking nonsense,” he tried anyway. “I’ll have your entire career for this.”

“You’ve had my career for a long time, Jacob.”

Jacob. Who was that? Aryalt blinked at the man. “What are you talking about?” Where the hell was Jim?

“I’ve been your handler for longer than you’ll ever remember. Longer than I remember. And now… it’s time to remember again. Wake up, Jacob. It’s time to go.”

Jacob blinked. “Shit. Shit.” The last vestiges of Aryalt fall off of him, leaving behind all of the man’s memories and none of his personality. “We have to go.”

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Uncle, a story of the fae apoc for the What I Want Call

For [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s donation and prompt.

“Bobby. Dolores. Jorge. Ryuu. Come here.“ Bruce stood on his porch and looked out at the yard. “Cherry. Kikyo. What part of here don’t you understand?”

“Sorry, Uncle Bruce!” The ragged chorus preceded the children to the porch. Bruce counted noses: One, two, three, four, five. “Where’s Kikyo?”

“She was playing with the kittens.” Dolores and Kikyo were cousin-twins, born within a day of each other from two of Bruce’s sisters. They were generally inseparable.

“Then go get her. Whatever she’s doing.” Kittens wasn’t something that would generally keep the kids from lunch. “Bobby, go with your sister.”


“Go. If anything’s weird, scream.” They knew that; that was drill. But Bruce still repeated it every chance he got. “Jorge, Ryuu, Cherry, come on in and wash up. Your mothers will be…”

A scream cut him off, one scream, two screams. Two. Not three. “Ryuu. Drill two. NOW.” Bruce was running before he finished the sentence, but he muttered a quick Working, enough to see that his nephew was doing as he’d said, gathering the younger children and getting them into the center room.

The barn was too far away. The defenses covered the barn too, of course, but a barn was not the most secure structure on which to hang that sort of thing. There were always holes. And they were supposed to be safe out here, out in the middle of nowhere…

The kids were still screaming. Two screams, still, two voices, not three. Bruce loaded up every attack spell he could spit out under his breath and woke up the farm’s overall defenses. Why wasn’t Kikyo screaming? Why wasn’t she making any noise?

He didn’t waste breath on swearing, but he did plenty of cursing in the silence of his mind. He should have gone himself, damnit. He should have known something was wrong with Kikyo didn’t show right away. He should have had the defenses up all the time.

The defenses themselves attracted attention; that was why they were mostly engage-in-crisis things. But he could have, if he’d spent enough time on it, come up with something passive that kept people away. He could have come up with a better alarm system. He could have…

In the barn, his oldest nephew was holding off an intruder with a pitchfork. The intruder was… was something, Bruce could tell that much. Humanoid, naked, with canted animal ears and a snakelike pattern over its skin. It was crouched over Kikyo, who was wrapped around her kittens.

Most of her kittens. A bloody tail on the ground suggested there was one less cat around than there had been. “Behind you, Bobby. Steady. Steady.” The boy was only ten. But he was a strong kid, and he took his responsibilities seriously. Bruce grabbed a spear off the wall and began circling.
The intruder was probably-male, although the long, matted hair made it hard to tell. It covered almost everything. “You need to let my niece go and leave. You need to leave now, alone, and never return.”

Level voice was the key. Level voice, strong voice. The creature tracked his movements but said nothing.

“Back away from the girl and leave.”

“Uncle Bruce?” Kikyo’s voice was weak but firm. “Uncle Bruce, he hurt Toby. I forgot to scream, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Kiya. Get away from him now, okay?”

“But my kittens. I can’t leave my kittens here.”

Screw the kittens. “Kiya, I’ll do my best to protect the kittens, but I promised your mother I’d take care of you. This is not taking care of you.”

“He’s scared, Uncle Bruce.” Dolores had a knack for not being seen. Now she was standing right next to Bruce, between him and her brother. “He’s like the raccoon the other week. He doesn’t know what’s going on.”

Bruce brought his attention back to the creature’s eyes. There was no comprehension there, none, just fear and worry.


“Uncle Bruce?”

“We cannot bring home a feral Ellehemaei.”

“But the raccoon…”

“This one will do a lot more than tip over the garbage. He’s already … hurt… a kitten. And he hurt Kikyo.”

“I’m not hurt, Uncle Bruce.” Kikyo peeked up at him over the kittens. “He didn’t hurt me. Just Toby, because Toby bit him.”

“See?” Before he could stop her – before it would have occurred to her that she’d do such a thing – Dolores had wrapped her arms around the creature’s neck. “We can keep him, right?”

No Keep, damnit, no… Bruce moved very slowly towards the creature. The creature, in return, held up both hands. Its eyes were on Bruce, not on the girl hanging from its neck. “Kikyo, take the kittens and go behind Bobby. Now.”

“Come on, Kiya.” Bobby reached out his hands, responding to the tone in Bruce’s voice. “Over here. Hand me the funny striped one. And the pink one.”

“He’s not pink.” When she stood up, Bruce could see the angry red marks on her face and arm. The thing had pushed her aside, then, or she’d tripped. No claw marks, and everything seemed to be working properly.

That was longer than he wanted to look away. Bruce looked over, to see the creature was tracking Kikyo’s movements as well.

“Come on, Uncle Bruce. We can’t just throw him away. Can we keep him?”

Keep again. Bruce sighed. “Deborah, it’s not an animal. It’s a person, a feral Ellehemaei. It could do a lot of damage. And, what’s more, you can’t put people in cages the way we did with the raccoon.”

“Keep.” The creature’s voice was thin and reedy, unused-sounding. It knelt, carefully, one hand hovering near Deborah. Again, its eyes were on Bruce. “Keba oronto apestla tauon. Sa’…?”

Bruce sighed. Those words couldn’t easily be denied. I am under your Name. Sir…? “Uncle Bear.” His sisters hadn’t exactly Named him, but they’d certainly helped. “You are under my name, jae’…”

The creature shrugged. The children watched, until Kikyo offered, solemnly, “Bjorn.”

“You are under my name, jae’Bjorn. Come with me.” And here was hoping the thing knew more than those words, or this was going to be difficult.


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Where’d That Come From

To eseme‘s prompt

There were things Vina had been expecting from school. Lots of things – tough classes, having to make friends again, being isolated in the middle of nowhere.

This was not in the book.

She looked – he looked – what did you even do with that? Vina – if the name could even still fit – looked under the sheets again. Then she-he-whatever let the sheets drop and facepalmed.

Leg pain had woken Vina up several times in the night, but Vina had a lanky body that had never stopped growing, and pain in the night was nothing new. This morning… this morning the leg pain might be explained (the legs were sticking out of the bottom of the bed now) but everything else was just more confusing.

For one, Vina was pretty sure there hadn’t been a penis there when she -um, no, it had been she then – went to bed. And there definitely was one now. There had definitely been breasts – not big ones or anything, but they’d been there – and now there was a flat chest with a little bit of muscle.

“Ummm…” Even the voice was wrong. Vina pulled … vina’self out of bed and stared at a mirror, hoping that it would reveal something other than… Vina’s own eyes had.

No. Other than that Vina was taller than any girl had any right to be – tall enough that sh… Vina had to duck to look in the mirror properly… the body looking back at her was still a male body.

Vina sat down on the floor and pulled knees up to a chest that was far too bony. “I don’t…” Lips closed on a voice that was wrong, and Vina pushed aside a thought, a sudden worry if tears weren’t boy-like. I’m not a boy. Vina repeated the thought over and over again, wishing it would do some good. I don’t know how to be a boy.

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Mapping, a story for the Giraffe Call

Another one where I’m not sure where it wants to go, um, but I’ll post it anyway.

“Here’s the space-view surveys of the planet. Here’s the original plans for the first three settlements. Here’s the builders’ notes. Here’s the town records.”

If they had been working in paper, Orchid would have been dumping papers into Cauli’s arms. As it was, he was shifting files from his data tablet to hers with wide sweeps of his fingers. “And here’s the notes from the second survey team and everything they pulled up. Is that going to be enough?”

Cauli, with heroic effort, did not laugh at the little bureaucrat. “More than enough. But I need to get down there, too, you know.”

“You’ve only got two weeks while we’re in orbit here.” This was the seventh time Orchid had told her this. It was the thirtieth time she’d heard him say it altogether. She wasn’t the only expert visiting the colony.

“I know, Orchid. It’s all right. I have my tools.” She patted the bag, which constituted almost half of her weight allowance on this trip. “I have my mind. I’m all right.” If she kept saying it, maybe he’d believe her. Orchid didn’t appear to think people could live without at least three terabytes of data on them at all times. “I’ve got it.”

“All right then. I’ll put you on the first shuttle down.”

The first shuttle down held four other equally-amused specialists and three fretting bureaucrats, cut from the same cloth as Orchid. Cauli made small talk with Zeeb, the xenobotanist, until they were situated in the settlement’s town hall-slash-community center.

“Just give me a table to work with and, if you have one available, a school-aged child to give me a tour.” She’d given this speech in twenty different settlements, and generally met with little resistance. “That’s all I need.” Around her, the other specialists were saying variations of the same thing.

“You can’t.”

That was not a reaction she’d been expecting. Settlers were generally practical people.

“I’m sorry.”

“You can’t. Not with a child. You need a priest.”

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Family and Cocoa, a story of the Aunt Family for the Giraffe CAll

For [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt

“There’s something to be said for being an orphan.” Beryl stared into her cocoa mug; cocoa, by all that’s sacred, please, not tea. “Or being raised by wolves.”

“I hear you.” Evangaline stared at her own mug – coffee, for much the same reason the Beryl was drinking cocoa. The whole family to come to to complain, and her niece had come to the Aunt. “They can be a bit of a double-edged sword.”

“They have another edge?” She rubbed her knuckles with her thumbs; Eva found herself wincing in empathy.

“They do.” She reached across her kitchen table to brush her fingertips against Beryl’s hand. “It’s hard to tell sometimes. But they – they made us who we are, Beryl.” And that was its own sword, now wasn’t it?

“The ancestors made us. Great-great-great-great grandmothers and, more importantly, Aunts.”

“And uncles and grandfathers.” She stared at her coffee. “Don’t forget, they may have made us, but they made them, too.”

“What do you mean?” Bery’s shoulders shifted and her spine straightened a bit. One of her hands uncurled from around her mug. “The grannies?”

“All of us. Every woman who got married at seventeen to avoid being the Aunt, every one who stayed single until forty to be the Aunt, every choice they’ve made about who to marry and where to live and where to let their kids go to school. Every one of them was cut from the same cloth that we are.” She patted Beryl’s hand again. “And every one of them had the same hard decisions.”

“Then why are they making all of mine harder?” Beryl’s hands clenched again.

Eva had heard this before. She had said it before, although it hadn’t been Asta (it had been her uncle Kevin, actually) to whom she whined. “They’re trying to help. They aren’t always succeeding, but it’s good to remember that they’re actually trying to make the choices easier.”

Beryl looked up at her Aunt. “And what about you?”

It was a fair question, and Eva gave it the consideration it deserved. “I’m trying to give you space to figure out who you are. We do better – all of us, humans, family or not – with space to be ourselves.”

“And drink cocoa and not tea?”

“And drink cocoa and not tea.” The lessons about reading the grit at the bottom of a cocoa mug could be saved for another day.

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Paint it Blue

to an [personal profile] anke’s prompt. thanks to @theladyisugly, Sky, and @AlphaRaposa for helping me create Clarisse.

The first thing Clarisse Martin did when she came to school was cut her hair short and dye it blue.

The upperclassmen found this a little bit amusing – after all, changing yourself when the school Changes you so much, so quickly, seemed a little overkill – but the teachers said nothing, and none of the other students actually said anything to her about it.

Clarisse found the lack of commentary strange, but, since she hadn’t done it for them, was unworried by it. She found the few giggles from older students completely understandable, and ignored them.

When the Reveal on the first Friday of classes showed Clarisse and the rest of the Tenth Cohort some of what they’d gotten into, Clarrise walked slowly to the doctor’s office, running her fingers through her hair. It explained a lot – but she liked her hair blue.

Her Change knocked her off her feet only literally, fusing her legs together from the ankle down into a sort of tail. “I believe there is more coming,” Dr. Caitrin theorized. “In the meantime, getting around might be a little tricky. We’ll work something out.”

It was the kind of situation that could get you down. It was the kind of situation where being stared at wasn’t so much a matter of why as which of the myriad of reasons are you noticing? Clarisse tried to keep her chin up and a smile on her face. It wasn’t about them, she reminded herself. This was her thing to deal with.

When the man with the terrifying blue eyes managed to convince her to be his – it was Hell Night, her wheelchair had gotten thrown across the hall, and he had a voice like a heavenly melody – she accepted the collar, the oro’ at the end of her name, and the rules without argument. They weren’t, in the end, about her; like a school uniform, they hung on her like accessories.

But when, angry after a bad day at school and frustrated over her wheelchair and her slow-as-molasses change, he began shouting at hr, Clarisse shook her head and met her Keeper’s eyes.

“You’re a no-good, stupid bitch…”


“You don’t get to tell me no.

“You get to tell me what to do.” She touched the collar around her neck with three fingers. “You don’t get to tell me who I am.”

He stared, stunned into speechlessness.

Clarisse kept talking. “You get to decide where I go. What I say. What I wear, if you’re so inclined. You don’t get to decide who I am.”

He said nothing, but touched her hair – still short, still blue, almost the same color as his eyes – with three fingers. His other hand touched the place where her ankles had fused together.

He didn’t have a hand to touch her self with.


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Had to be Done

This is [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s commissioned continuation to What was Right, which was a continuation of Bowen’s Summer, Continued, which was a continuation of July Linkback Story. It takes place between Years 5 & 6 of the Addergoole School

…Bowen knocked anyway. Some things, you really didn’t have any choice about.

Knocked, and then, when she opened the door, knelt on one knee. “Kailani cy’Regine, I owe you a debt of honor.” The words were awkward, but they were right. “I owe you deeply, for the good you did me. I humbly request that you tell me what I can do to repay this.”

He really didn’t expect her to start crying.

Crying girls were not something Bowen had a lot of experience with. From the looks of the rest of his cy’ree, neither did they.

He bowed again, a little lower, and then looked up at her. “What…?”

“Kai, honey, what’s wrong?” Conrad appeared behind Kailani in the doorway of their cottage. “…Oh.” His cold expression took in all four of the cy’Fridmar on the porch. “It’s summer time, guys, don’t you have a hobby?”

“No, no, it’s okay.” Kailani patted Conrad’s arm a few times. Bowen noticed the flummoxed look on Conrad’s face before he noticed that the guy was still wearing a collar. “They’re not doing anything wrong.”

“Kai. You’re crying. You don’t cry.”

“He said… he said…”

“I said thank you.” Crying girl. Okay. Bowen could deal with this, really. “Well, I said that I owed her, but ‘thank you’ was part of that.”

“Took you long enough.” Conrad’s glare was not being at all mitigated.

“Conrad.” Kai patted his arm again. “It’s okay.”

“You weren’t expecting anything, were you?” Phelen had slurked up behind Bowen while he watched this so-awkward interchange.

Kai shook her head. “No. Everyone…” She glanced at Conrad and fell silent.

Phelen filled in the blanks. “Addergoole is full of takers. You broke the script, and that made many people angry.”

Kailani nodded. Conrad’s frown slowly faded. “She played with the big dogs.”

“We know.” Rozen’s rumble of a voice was almost a laugh. “We were there.”

Bowen watched Kailani look over his head at Rozen and Baram. “I remember.” There was something in her voice, and then it was gone when she looked at Bowen. “You look… you look good.” She somehow made that a question.

Conrad looked back at Bowen, sharply now. “You do. Happy, and you’ve got your color back.”

Bowen shrugged. “Lots of time outside. Nice to see the sun.” He didn’t realize he was smiling until he felt the way “sun” tasted on his lips.

Kailani smiled, too. “It is. It’s hard to go back inside at the end of the day.” She tilted her face upwards for a moment, eyes closed.

When the moment had stretched from reasonable to a little-too-long, Conrad coughed. Kai looked back at Bowen. “What brings you to Addergoole in the middle of the summer, then?”

“Uh.” He glanced back at his cy’ree. “Rozen brought me.”

“Oh. Oh?”

“I brought him to say thank you. Then we’re going to take a road trip.” Rozen was speaking a little more slowly, Bowen noticed, and enunciating carefully. Kai wasn’t stupid – she was supposed to be the smartest person in their Cohort.

“Oh.” Right now, she looked like she needed smaller words. “Well, have fun.”

Phelen laughed. “Yeah.” Yeah? “Yes, Kailani, it was that big of a deal. You faced down Agatha to get Bowen out of a bad situation.”

“He repaid the favor.”

“He repaid the favor, but not the bravery.” Phelen bowed. “Now he’s repaying it all.”

“That.” Bowen nodded. “You did a bigger thing than I did.”

Kailani made an expression that was probably a smile. “Somebody had to.”

“And you did it.”

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